The Palm Desert Food and Wine Festival Makes its Epic Return

By Ben Brown

The Palm Desert Food and Wine Festival in Palm Desert, CA

After two long years, the Palm Desert Food and Wine festivalreturned to the Gardens at El Paseo, welcoming eager patrons, restaurateurs andbeverage purveyors for a spectacular weekend of culinary festivity. Celebritychefs and local icons led a myriad of events around town, culminating in thefestival’s back-to-back grand tastings.


A magnificent crowd bounced between both big top tents andmingled throughout the central patio. The same sight two years ago—where thepandemic cancelled the festival just weeks before it was set tocommence—would’ve been unheard of. But now, what seems like just a blink andyet several lifetimes later at the same time, this wealth of peoplecongregating together for the love of food was most welcome.


Bold and elegant taste prevailed across each grand tastingday, welcoming an array of Palm Desert and Palm Springs favorites thatwithstood the pandemic on a foundation of local support, as well as new facescoming to make a splash with the community. Among those newcomers was chefMichael Hung, an LA legend who has brought his craft to So.PA at the L’HorizonResort and Spa, and whose move is a nod toward Palm Desert’s continued growthwithin Southern California’s prestigious food scene.


The celebrity chef lineup originally planned for 2020 tookthe stage in full force. Carla Hall stole the show during Sunday afternoon’sgrand tasting, captivating the audience with an energy that was bottled up for24 months and aged like a fine wine. Curtis Stone performed for a limitedaudience on Saturday morning while Aarti Sequeira remained in the show kitchenfor multiple demonstrations. Gale Gand, Claudia Sandoval, Paulette Goto and theever-amazing Jamie Gwen were among others to wow the audience with signaturedishes and sweets.


Tuna poke wontons, New York strip, brisket mac ‘n’ cheese,grilled yellowtail, wagyu beef sliders and that oh-so-delectable Brandinitoffee marked some of the weekend’s tasteful highlights. This year’s festivaladmittedly saw fewer restaurants than usual, showing that while we as a societyare (hopefully) nearing the end of the pandemic, its effects on the restaurantworld will continue to linger for some time. Kudos to the festival organizersfor rallying restaurant to perform at an incredible level despite theirinevitable challenges with staffing, supply chain logistics and rising foodcosts.


The drink game seemed as strong as ever this year, with morethan 60 wineries, breweries and distilleries showcasing varietals andconcoctions from across Southern California and beyond. Patrons were treated toMontenegro guided tasting flights, only to venture steps away to bottomlesssauvignon blanc, prosecco, Aperol spritzers, craft bourbon, and just aboutanything else their hearts desired.

We're all hoping it'll be less than three years before the next Palm Desert Food and Wine Festival.

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